Photo Finish: A Photography Show to End the Year
Hang around long enough in these parts and the words “East End photography show” can summon visions of a predictable mix of pretty sunsets, beach and bay scenes, lush farm fields, and moody abstractions.
There’s nothing wrong with such a show. The photos can often be quite arresting. But there is a feeling of inevitability about them, as if you already had a slide show of them playing in your brain.
“Photography on the East End” is not that show. Phew.
Organized by Ned Smyth and Coco Myers for Folioeast and installed at Malia Mills, a shop on East Hampton’s Main Street, it is striking in its concentration in an intimate space and in its subject matter.
A poster-size print on Plexiglas by Joe Pintauro beckons to the outside and passers-by. “Lifeguard With Broken Umbrella,” a picture of a male lifeguard perched on a stand with the promised broken umbrella, is part of a series that includes “Lifeguard With Broken Umbrella (Male)” and “Lifeguard With Broken Umbrella (Female),” also on view in the gallery. The group indicates that something different is afoot, an appreciation for the flawed, or something organic and edgier.
Jonathan Morse’s “Hovering Gull, Long Wharf, Sag Harbor” is caught at full wingspan, suspended in midair as if by magic or sheer will. There is a lot of implied menace in this work. The bird is clearly scoping out his next meal, and somebody’s lunch is going to suffer for it.
The portraits of the scions of colonial farming families by Tony Lattari, with their sepia tones and work clothes-clad subjects, recall Walker Evans or Dorothea Lange. With hedge funders (who, with other recent arrivals, complain about the dust these tillers of the land kick up onto their properties) becoming the primary demographic associated with “the Hamptons,” it is worth noting those who preceded them. Mr. Lattari, a fashion photographer by trade, gives his subjects the rough-hewn gravity they deserve.
Similarly, Michael Ruggiero’s “Last Baymen” series captures a way of life that has essentially disappeared in moody and dramatic black-and-white photos conjuring the heroic role these fishing families played in feeding the South Fork throughout history.
In a composition Lindsay Morris calls “Yellow,” a clam rake is placed on a white ground. In an urban environment, the piece would be accepted as a ready-made art object. Those of us here know better. In a similar vein, Ralph Gibson’s tire and doorknob reduce his surroundings to the tiniest detail, a subjective essence.
The subjects of images by Mr. Smyth, Philippe Cheng, Laurie Lambrecht, and Bastienne Schmidt are not new to the artists, but they look fresh in this setting, which will continue to display the works through Jan. 7.